On Friday, one of the local dailies, quoting the University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Eli Katunguka, reported how over 2,900 Kyambogo University graduands risk losing out on their graduation next month: their results and data have allegedly been deleted from the university system, an act being blamed on former staff.
The suspects (who number five) behind all this reportedly formerly worked as assistant information technology officers in the Directorate of ICT at the university and resigned a few months back.
“We are sure they are the ones who deleted the data because they were in charge of all these particular things that were deleted,” Prof Katunguka said.
Pepper Digital through independent sources has learnt that ‘there’s more to this than meets the eye’. Information obtained indicates that the five named ex-staff members are also former students of Kyambogo University who graduated in 2010 with degrees in telecommunications engineering. As their final year project, they invented a University Management system which they named “E-Kampus”. The aim of the system was to improve the ordinary student’s university experience. Before, a student had to move from office to office, stand in long queues and deal with a lot of paperwork to complete all manner of University processes such as registration, examination permits, fees payment, graduation and others. The University was beset with loss and confusion of students’ academic and financial records was also rampant. The pioneering E-Kampus system did away with all these problems. The ex-students later built another system named ZEEVARSITY/AIMS which they deployed to initially support other Private Universities and later, Public Universities on Government contract. The Government of Uganda recognized and awarded AIMS/ZEE VARSITY as one of the best local IT solutions in the Country. In Universities like Mbarara where AIMS is used, graduates receive their transcripts on graduation day. The ex-students have most recently used AIMS/ZEEVARSITY to help the Law Development Centre resolve the marks crisis there by quickly building student portals where all the students have now received their full and accurate marks. Going forward students at LDC will receive and track their individual marks in real time.
It has now emerged that Kyambogo officials have ganged up with other universities to kick out the Academic Information Management System (AIMS) and introduce their own new scheme dubbed ACMIS (Academic Certified Management Information System). This means kicking out the former students’ system and sources say this is the cause of all hullaballoo at Kyambogo. Insiders revealed to this newspaper that there is a move championed by members of the top management to replace AIMS with his own system ACMIS.
STUDENTS RESULTS DELETED
Because it (ACMIS) is a new system, to which the institution is migrating, according to sources, this is the reason why some students are encountering deep challenges while adapting to it. This explains the new portal that is in Kyambogo University. As a result, lost marks, altered marks, missing and messed up academic and financial records have been reported recently. This is the cause of the delayed graduation that management has postponed for the umpteenth time.
“Government is yet to officially take interest in the public outcry of the affected thousands of students. The most important stakeholder in any University is supposed to be the students because management systems are meant to improve their University experience. However, the students whose portal is being changed have not been consulted or considered at all. The entire change process appears to be a boardroom decision of sweetheart deals, abuse office, conflict of interest and personal profiteering of…,” a source further highlights and goes on to add that “Government which contracts AIMS/ZEEVARSITY has not sanctioned this change which affects very over 150,000 students across almost all Universities in Uganda. Students’ user experience on AIMS/ZEEVARSITY via User Acceptance Tests showed that the students across all universities ranked it as working very well. Why change a thing that is working well and without involving the students?”
“What should worry other Universities is that Kyambogo officials are working to lure and intimidate other universities to shift from AIMS to the new Portal in Kyambogo that has caused the delayed graduation in Kyambogo and messed up University records. The students of all the other universities have not been consulted. The crisis in Kyambogo now threatens to extend to Makerere University and Makerere University Business School where the students are off-campus and therefore cannot be heard in this mismanagement of change.”
The other major problem with the new portal, according to sources, is that while management has allegedly claimed that the new portal is built by Kyambogo University, “there is no record of any staff member participating in building it. No single university organ approved it or funded it”.
The ex-students insist that it is the work of some official’s private company targeting to take the government contract away from ZEE VARSITY/AIMS to ACMIS.
“At the heart of the dispute are the billions of money that the government is supposed to pay the ex-students. Some Kyambogo management official is determined to prize this money away from them and take it for himself and his boardroom colleagues. The ex-students who cannot access these boardrooms have cried out for the Government to intervene on their side,” an insider adds.
This has resulted in the loss of students’ marks, loss of transaction/payment records among others. The outgoing AIMS was home to the students’ portal, results, payment logs among other features.
AIMS was unleashed over three years ago and has recorded a tremendous usage amongst most of the academic institutions in Uganda including Mbarara University, Kabale University and many others. Secondary schools are also beneficiaries of this system.
The primary objective of the AIMS during its birth was to manage automation of results information, admissions and billing/payments for learners and stakeholders in the academia.
Due to constant pressure as the university pushed for a new system, coupled with a lot of rot—serious ethical and capacity problems—at the Kyambogo ICT Directorate, these five ex-students-turned staff decided to resign.
“All five (5) ex-students fully handed over when they resigned and have not returned to the Directorate since they resigned between December 2020 and April 2021. They handed over all the log-in credentials to the designated staff of Kyambogo University. They, therefore, cannot know anything that is going on in the directorate and are not responsible for the faults that have been reported there since they left,” a source continues “As the Directorate was consistently embroiled in scandal and crime after crime and management did nothing about it, the 5 ex-students chose to disassociate themselves from the embattled directorate by resigning.”
More rot about the ICT Directorate rot will be exposed in our subsequent publication.
SECURITY RAID EX-STUDENTS PRIVATE OFFICE
Pepper Digital has learnt that on 17 August 2021, Kyambogo University Police numbering about 10 raided the ex-students’ offices with demands that they hand over all their computers without a Court Order. Kyambogo University police sought to whisk the ex-students away to an unknown destination in the now notorious and dreaded police Van popularly known as “drone”.
It took the intervention of political leadership and the leadership of the Uganda Police Force including fallen Deputy Inspector General of Police Major General Paul Lokech to save the students and their office data. The ex-students insist that this act of armed terror and intimidation was orchestrated by university top officials to shut AIMS/ZEEVARSITY down, detain the students and their computers so that they are incapacitated from providing ZEEVARSITY/AIMS to the over 17 Universities and over 150,000 students who use it.
“The aim was also to harvest their data so that ACMIS has a head start in prizing away their clients the other universities using AIMS/ZEE VARSITY. Thanks to the intervention of the police leadership, AIMS/ZEEVARSITY remains available, reliable and operational in all Universities.”
ALLOW POLICE TO DO THEIR WORK
The act of University management, according to insiders, to publish the names of the students in the press over an accusation that is the subject of police investigation was only meant to “interfere with police investigation and deflect the public pressure for failing the system by using the ex-students as scapegoats.”
Observers also opine that the media utterances are also meant to divert public attention from the incompetence of his DICTS on the ex-students and deflecting attention from the serious problems of the new Portal in Kyambogo.
“Giving the students a bad name in the press at this very early stage of the investigation is also business underhand tactics to malign and discredit business competitors. These matters of students’ academic and financial records are of great public interest. Parliament led by Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanya and the Minister for Higher Education Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo need to take an interest in this matter.” Efforts to reach Kyambogo management over this story were futile by press time.